Patents don't define a market...
... but they're a decent proxy for when a market comes into being. This week's Challenge asks about finding the patent dates for two devices that are fairly clever, definitely deserving of patent protection.
Can you find the patent dates for these two devices?
1. What's the patent date for the apple parer seen above? (See another view below for a similar device with an apple in place.)
This search returns exactly the one result for patent US10078A (1853), the "Machine for Paring Apples."
|Note that the text "Apple Parer" is handwritten in the diagram.
Apparently the OCR doesn't recognize that text in the illustration.
2. And the device that captured my heart, a stapler that works WITHOUT staples! When was this (or something very much like it) first patented?
I was curious if I could find this using "regular" Google search, so I tried this search:
[ stapleless stapler ]
and then looked at the images--was really surprised to see that there's an entire universe of shockingly colored stapleless staplers out there.
But by adding the term "antique" to the query, I got much better results:
By looking at these results, it would seem that this is a "Bump Fastener" from the Bump Fastener Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. (Notice that there's even chip in the upper left corner about "bump paper fastener.")
Searching for [ Bump Fastener Company ] quickly got me to the official LaCrosse County Bump Fastener page, which tells me that "...this handy office tool fastens two or more pieces of paper together. The fastener cuts a small triangular-shaped hole in the paper, folds back the cut triangle, and then slides it into a slot cut in the paper to fasten it in place." And that it was invented in 1910.
That's our gadget!
(And yes, search-by-image works quite well, as does a Lens search.)
But there's more to this history. From the same web page:
"Bump invented and patented other inventions while living in La Crosse, including an air compressor pump, a terminal clamp, a carburetor-adjusting mechanism, a rotary engine and many others. In 1930, Bump changed his company name to the Bump Pump Co., based on his new invention. However, the company was still producing his first patented invention, the paper fastener."
I have to admit that I was interested in the backstory, so I did the obvious search in newspapers of the day and found this lovely story:
|LaCrosse Tribune, 3 Aug 1930, before the company name change,
I'm not sure I would have called this a "Combination of Romance, Struggle," but things were different back then. To LaCrosse, this was hot, front-page news!
Before I get to the lessons I learned, I want to point out that several RegularReaders wrote exemplary SRS discussions and I want to point you to them.
Art Weiss wrote about his great voyage of discovery (which I thought about using for today's text). He also taught me about Espacenet, which is a great patent search engine--well worth knowing about. I especially like their advanced patent search UI which is especially easy to use.
Remmij, as usual, found some intriguing pages, including a site I didn't know about, the Early Office Museum Website, which pointed out that "..[stapleless fasteners] were introduced in 1909 by the Clipless Paper Fastener Co. and in 1910 by Bump’s Perfected Paper Fastener Co. A Clipless Paper Fastener and the Bump Paper Fastener cut and fold small flaps in the papers in a way that locks the papers together. Bump machines were still marketed in 1950. Curiously, the model of the Bump Stand Machine that was introduced in 1916 was sold until 1950 with the words "Patent Pending.""
Mateojose1 did a marvelous job of walking us through their search process with a nice description of side-journeys.
Ramón points us to this amazing video of an 1870's peeler being restored and used. Which reminded me to search on YouTube for a Sargent and Foster apple peeler video in use.
1. Read carefully. I know I say this all the time, but when I was initially searching, I misunderstand Calvin Foster's name, thinking that only one person named Foster would be involved in apple peeler patents. How wrong was I!
2. OCR is inexact.. especially in older documents (like 19th century patents). Sometimes you have to "read through" the OCR errors to get to the good stuff.
3. Don't be afraid to try alternative versions of your query. Note that when I tried searching on patents for "Apple Parer," it didn't work too well. But "Apple peeler" did!